Girls I Knowby Douglas Trevor
In the Winter of 2001, 29-year-0ld Walt Steadman survives a shooting in his favorite Boston Café that leaves four people dead. In the aftermath, Walt forms two new relationships: one with Ginger Newton, a privileged, reckless, Harvard undergraduate who is interviewing women about their lives for a book called Girls I Know, and the other with 11-year-old Mercedes Bittles, whose parents were killed in the restaurant. Wounded but resilient, all three must deal with loss and grief and the consequences that come when their lives change in unexpected ways.
"This impressive first novel grew out of an award-winning short story of the same name by University of Michigan-Ann Arbor professor Trevor (The Thin Tear in the Fabric of Space). In 2001, 29-year-old Walt Steadman, a Harvard graduate school dropout, squeaks by working as an apartment building superintendent, sperm bank donor, and dry cleaner cashier, having dropped his Ph.D. dissertation on the poet Robert Lowell after developing writer’s block. Originally from Burlington, Vt., where his grandmother cares for his multiple sclerosis–stricken mother, Walt has settled into a comfortable routine that includes breakfast at the Early Bird Café, which makes him “feel connected to Boston.” As he grows friendly with a young waitress, Flora Martinez, he works up his nerve to ask her out. Meanwhile, Walt also befriends Ginger Newton, a spirited, wealthy, and somewhat entitled undergrad collecting interviews for a nonfiction book she calls Girls I Know. After local gang violence escalates into a bloody shooting at the cafe, Walt begins tutoring eleven-year-old Mercedes, a shooting victim’s daughter, while completing his dissertation on Ginger’s dime. Despite the unmistakable physical attraction he shares with Ginger, Walt must decide if they really belong together, in Trevor’s affecting and smoothly written debut novel."
"Affecting novel of love, coming-of-age and theistic ontology. Walt Steadman, the protagonist of Trevor’s (English/Univ. of Michigan; The Thin Tear in the Fabric of Space, 2005) sometimes picaresque tale, refuses to grow up. He’s the super of a Boston condo simply in order to get free rent, though he doesn’t really know how to fix anything; he’s obsessed with poetry but can’t get a handle on the dissertation he’s supposed to be writing at Harvard; he has two pairs of shoes, one of which he doesn’t wear, and a single pair of grown-up pants. Walt spends his mornings at a little diner so far away from home that it takes him a couple of transfers to get there; he’s studying the generous form of its sole waitress, Flora Martinez. When a bright young trust-funder philosophy major moves into the building, Walt takes a rare break from the cafe to help her with a project interviewing women about meaning in their lives, “[s]omething Aquinas might have written if he had been a Women’s Studies major.” When tragedy strikes, as it must to even so resolutely unkempt and adolescent a life as Walt’s, he is forced to grow up—some, anyway. That tragedy is skillfully worked into the narrative, both unexpected and inevitable; suffice it to say that every one of Walt’s assumptions is overturned, just as Aquinas might have wanted. In its more whimsical moments, Trevor’s book is reminiscent of Michael Chabon’s Wonder Boys and Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, and if Trevor isn’t quite in their league, he has a solid sense of storytelling and the mot juste—and his characters are likable and believable as well. As much a love song sung to Boston as a conventional novel, and a welcome debut."
“Deeply moving and ebulliently funny, this dazzling debut novel is both a Valentine to a community, a tender probing of horrific loss, and a testament to how even the rawest of hearts can heal when they’re lucky enough to find themselves in synch with others. Totally wonderful, original, and as stunning as a bolt of lightning.”
--Caroline Leavitt, author of Pictures of You
“Be prepared for a full range of emotions in Girls I Know: friendship, loyalty, love, family, and above all, the mysteries at every corner of one’s history that make us who we are. Douglas Trevor is a writer with a true compassion for human hearts.”
--Yiyun Li, author of Gold Boy, Emerald Girl
“By turns funny, flirtatious and fierce, Girls I Know is above all a work of real heart. I can’t recall when I last fell so in love with a novel’s characters, but if I had to compare Douglas Trevor to anyone he puts me in mind of a young John Irving.”
--Peter Ho Davies, author of The Welsh Girl
“Girls I Know is, at heart, a love story. Love of the city of Boston, love of family and friends and women. But mostly it’s about learning to love yourself. And like all good love stories, it breaks your heart and then lifts you up as it navigates and ultimately celebrates that crazy thing we call love.”
--Ann Hood, author of The Knitting Circle
- SixOneSeven Books
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- 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.90(d)
Meet the Author
Douglas Trevor is the author of the novel Girls I Know (Sixoneseven Books, 2013), and the short story collection The Thin Tear in the Fabric of Space (University of Iowa Press, 2005). Thin Tear won the 2005 Iowa Short Fiction Award and was a finalist for the 2006 Hemingway Foundation/Pen Award for First Fiction. His short fiction has appeared in the Paris Review, Glimmer Train, Epoch, Black Warrior Review, New England Review, and about a dozen other literary magazines. He lives in Ann Arbor, where he is an associate professor of Renaissance literature and creative writing in the English Department at the University of Michigan.
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